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Helix Soundbox Upgrade Information Post!

flipflp

Drag Racing Champion
Location
Los Angeles, CA
Car(s)
'16 Golf R DSG
Hi All, I wanted to make a thread specifically for posting information, experiences, advice, unique mods, issues, grievances, etc. for the VW Accessory Helix Soundbox upgrade.

Ideally, I'd like to try and keep posts here to information to assist users in installing, programming, and using their Helix. There are other active posts in this sub-forum where questions are asked and answered, my goal is to take important bits from those 100 or so pages for easy reference.

I’m going to put together all info I can, if you have additions or corrections PM me so I can edit this post!

What is the Helix Soundbox Upgrade?
VW Accessory Part number 000051419 is a Factory Radio upgrade for base stereos (non-Fender/Dynaudio) that adds a subwoofer and DSP/Amplifier. This upgrade installs in place of your spare tire (more on that below) and is wired into your factory head unit with the included wiring harness.

Update: Revision part number 000051419B to replace the non-B part number once old stock has been depleted.
https://parts.vw.com/p/Volkswagen__/Spare-Tire-Mount-Subwoofer--Soundbox/70346182/000051419B.html

What’s in the box?
Parts in this kit are:
Helix Subwoofer Box ( with two ~6” bass drivers: https://www.audiotec-fischer.de/en/match/subwoofers/pp-72w-d)
Helix DSP/Amplifier
Wiring Harness
Cable Ties, Hold down spacer, small Helix logo badges, RHD DSP dongle plug, alternate power connectors

What Applications does this fit?
For Golfmk7 Forum purposes, the Helix fits all Golf applications excluding vehicles with factory Fender or Dynaudio radios. Additionally, this kit (based on listed programming options) fits these applications:
http://www.volkswagen-accessories.c...tion.download_attachment.file/settings_en.pdf
 
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flipflp

Drag Racing Champion
Location
Los Angeles, CA
Car(s)
'16 Golf R DSG
How do you install the Helix?
The Helix upgrade manual does not include vehicle specific instructions, but many users have followed these YouTube videos:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dKJtnaV9CU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=59bKOruoJys

These videos show a MK7 GTI with the glovebox mounted CD/SD card unit. MK6 or non-MIB installs may vary.

Effectively you are running a wiring harness from the dash (either glovebox or head unit depending on application) to your trunk. This will connect to your factory radio harness and carry power to the Helix DSP as well as loop your speaker outputs from the factory radio to the DSP and then back to the factory harness to the speakers.

Pro Tip: Disconnect your battery before working with the Helix harness!

The harness will run down the passenger side of the car under or behind interior panels, so plastic trim removal tools are helpful but not required.
Radio removal tools for VW/Audi radios are available online through Amazon.com, eBay.com, for a few dollars they make that task very easy. (example: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B018GKO6OQ)

The factory harness will need to be de-pinned and re-pinned for power, and a terminal tool is also helpful. Again, Amazon.com, eBay.com, even a local auto parts stores have these. (example: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0009OR906)

Note: Most of the installs reported on GolfMK7 were DIY’d. Dealership quotes for installs have been varied, from a few hundred dollars to “we’re not interested”. This is a VW accessory, but a dealership does not have to install this upgrade (that includes performing DSP programming).

Once all the hardware is installed, your Helix DSP will need to be programmed. There have been retailers or references that have stated the Helix is pre-programmed for use with 4-Door Mk7 Golfs. After a significant number of installations by forum users reporting improvements in sound quality after “reprogramming”, the consensus is these notes are incorrect. You will need to program your Helix for the best performance.

I repeat: YOU WILL NEED TO PROGRAM YOUR HELIX! If you think it sounds good without programming you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the correct programming applied.
 
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flipflp

Drag Racing Champion
Location
Los Angeles, CA
Car(s)
'16 Golf R DSG
How do I program the Helix?

Using what’s become known as the “Helix Dongle”, you will need to program your DSP unit to match the vehicle it is installed in. This dongle will upload a program to the DSP based on a one or two-digit code.

While this tool is a “dealer only part” many forum users have been able to purchase it, and have made threads for renting to other forum members. You’ll need to PM or post if the thread hasn’t been active recently:

http://www.golfmk7.com/forums/showthread.php?t=36221

http://www.golfmk7.com/forums/showthread.php?t=19829

http://www.golfmk7.com/forums/showthread.php?t=28448

http://www.golfmk7.com/forums/showthread.php?t=34182

(Please note I’m not personally endorsing any users renting their dongles, please do your homework and rent from someone you trust!)

Dongle Instructions:
http://www.volkswagen-accessories.c...19-a-ba-programmierdongle-soundsystem--d-.pdf

Programming Codes (Updated!):
http://www.volkswagen-accessories.com/content/medialib/vwd4/de_vw_zubehoer/produktwelten/infotainment/soundsystem/microsite/downloads/setups_2017_en/_jcr_content/renditions/rendition.download_attachment.file/setups_2017_en.pdf

VW Website for the “Plug and Play Soundsystem” AKA Helix:
http://www.volkswagen-accessories.com/en/product-ranges/infotainment/soundsystem.html
 
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flipflp

Drag Racing Champion
Location
Los Angeles, CA
Car(s)
'16 Golf R DSG
What should I expect from the Helix Soundbox Upgrade?

Overall you should expect improved clarity, increased bass output, and a better soundstage. This is accomplished by the Helix DSP (Digital Signal Processor) adjusting frequencies and timing based on the vehicles speakers, interior space, etc. Additionally, the Helix has its own built-in amplifier. Though no specs are listed in the Helix documentation, based on similar non-VW Helix DSP units it is likely ~40 watts x 4 for the door speakers, and 160 watts x 1 channel for the subwoofers.

That said, the DSP receives its signal from a speaker level input, which is then converted to a very low voltage “low level” input to be amplified a second time. This creates a more limited dynamic range and users have experienced distortion at higher volumes (>50%). To reduce the systems tendency to distort, it is best to use high quality audio files (high bit rate MP3, FLAC, WAV, or physical CDs).

Depending on your tastes, you might want to adjust the EQ on the head unit though the adjustments made by the DSP are much more “flat” than the factory radio.

There is a gain adjustment on the side of the Helix unit for subwoofer level. It’s not quite a full turn from left to right, but this can adjust the subwoofer output ONLY. This does not change the speaker output.

Can I upgrade Speakers/Subwoofers/Amplifers using the Helix DSP?

Within some of the threads linked here there are discussions about improving on the Helix setup, which is designed to be a plug and play upgrade. Many things are possible, but in general if you are wanting to replace all of the factory speakers, use separate amplifiers and a larger subwoofer, you would be better off with a more robust starting point. At some point the DSP’s programming won’t be accurate as it’s designed for all factory components and the Helix subwoofer, and re-amping an already amplified speaker level output will likely increase distortion.

Upgrading your factory speakers to aftermarket units with improved drivers will change the sound, and your overall results may vary by brand. The factory drivers (tweeters and mid-range drivers) are marked “4 ohm” which as a pair would result in a 2 ohm setup. Aftermarket speakers or separates are generally a 2 ohm or 4 ohm. This rating will affect the output of the speakers (2 ohm being a higher load will have a higher output, 4 ohm will have less output). Using 4ohm speakers would in theory allow for more volume level on the head unit to be used before distortion is heard, but would not eliminate the distortion caused by the DSP/Amp at certain output levels. This would also change the balance between the speakers and sub, so the subwoofer level may need to be adjusted.

This is a very “Your Mileage May Vary” section, as what sounds good will change person to person.
 

flipflp

Drag Racing Champion
Location
Los Angeles, CA
Car(s)
'16 Golf R DSG
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gopi_rm

Passed Driver's Ed
Location
Germany
Thanks mate for compiling the complete info for helix install.
I am still getting distortions in my door speakers at higher volume with more bass. Any suggestion for this?

BTW, I have compiled info in this link regarding how to route the cable under the rear seat in golf estate/sportwagen/variant.
 

flipflp

Drag Racing Champion
Location
Los Angeles, CA
Car(s)
'16 Golf R DSG
Thanks mate for compiling the complete info for helix install.
I am still getting distortions in my door speakers at higher volume with more bass. Any suggestion for this?

BTW, I have compiled info in this link regarding how to route the cable under the rear seat in golf estate/sportwagen/variant.
If you're getting distortion from bass or just higher volumes in general, I think your fix would fall under the "use high quality sources" or you might have to tune through the EQ a bit. Mine is set flat, but I have dropped the bass level to -1 in the past, before I turned down the sub gain on the DSP itself. Otherwise you're probably just at the limits of the system considering the compromises.

I'll add your link to the thread as well! Thank you!
 

gopi_rm

Passed Driver's Ed
Location
Germany
If you're getting distortion from bass or just higher volumes in general, I think your fix would fall under the "use high quality sources" or you might have to tune through the EQ a bit. Mine is set flat, but I have dropped the bass level to -1 in the past, before I turned down the sub gain on the DSP itself. Otherwise you're probably just at the limits of the system considering the compromises.
I am using iPhone as the source through bluetooth and my bass level is 80% of the max. May be my bass level could be the reason. I have coded the system to sportwagen setting. What will be the impact if I change the gain in DSP? Does it affect the sub only or door speakers also?
 

flipflp

Drag Racing Champion
Location
Los Angeles, CA
Car(s)
'16 Golf R DSG
I am using iPhone as the source through bluetooth and my bass level is 80% of the max. May be my bass level could be the reason. I have coded the system to sportwagen setting. What will be the impact if I change the gain in DSP? Does it affect the sub only or door speakers also?
Your source material could be the issue, for example low bit rate MP3s are very compressed and will have audible distortion before higher quality material like CDs, FLAC files, etc.

When you say your bass level is 80% of max, do you mean that it's set above the "flat" or middle setting in the EQ? If so it's very likely that is causing a problem. With the Helix installed, I have all EQ levels at 0 or flat and the sound is very accurate.

All posts and my personal experience is that the gain on the side of the DSP will only affect the sub output, not the speakers in any way.
 

gopi_rm

Passed Driver's Ed
Location
Germany
Your source material could be the issue, for example low bit rate MP3s are very compressed and will have audible distortion before higher quality material like CDs, FLAC files, etc.

When you say your bass level is 80% of max, do you mean that it's set above the "flat" or middle setting in the EQ? If so it's very likely that is causing a problem. With the Helix installed, I have all EQ levels at 0 or flat and the sound is very accurate.

All posts and my personal experience is that the gain on the side of the DSP will only affect the sub output, not the speakers in any way.
Thanks for your tip mate!
After setting the bass level to 0 in the infotainment system, now there is no distortion in the door speakers at higher volume.
 

Scrh1

New member
Location
Southeast
Just wanted to say thanks for your great tutorial ! After some serious searching, I decided to pull the trigger on the helix sub fir my 2017 GTI Sport. I managed to pick it up at a local dealer for 240+ tax ( note that 10$ of that was for the additional plastic screws and post for being able to keep the spare).

Tip for pricing these- The actual dealer cost on this part is $210. They are advertised at most online vw dealer sites for 250-290$. I called the 4 dealers within 25 miles of my house and after some minor back and forth secured it for 230 for immediate in person pick up on Saturday morning).

The install itself was fairly straight forward. Disconnect your battery ! Can't stress this enough when working on the electrical system!

I read all the posts and watched the YouTube video a couple of times. From start to finish I spent a little over 2hrs on this. Most of the time for me was getting the CD player out of the glovebox. I went the route of making my own tool as I couldn't find the proper ones locally ( unless you are making them out of metal, don't waste your time ). I ended up using a small nail file that was part of some cheap nail clippers I found in a kitchen junk drawer at home and they worked perfectly.

The trim removal and wiring were pretty straight forward. I used a trim removal tool as I had them from some other projects and don't want to break or scratch anything. I used a small electronics screwdriver to remove the pins in the plugs.

The spare and sub absolutely will fit together. Removing the rubber feet and having the extra plastic post and screw are the only way to make it work.

The improvement in the bass and overall sound is noticeable. The dealer swore it was factory coded for the golf/gti family. They didn't have the dongle so I'm not sure I believe them. I will code it when I get a chance to rent it from one of the threads.

Overall a nice sound upgrade that can't be beat for the cost. Thanks again
 
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